NASA moon-landing tech hitches ride to space on Bezos rocket

“Touchdown! New Shepard, here we go. I’m sorry you couldn’t hear me pounding the desk in my mic,” said launch commentator Caitlin Dietrich.

The capsule carried science experiments, including 1.2 million tomato seeds that will be distributed to schoolchildren around the U.S. and Canada, and tens of thousands of children’s postcards with space-themed drawings that will be returned to the young senders.

NASA’s navigation equipment for future moon landings was located on the booster. The sensors and computer — tested during the booster’s descent and touchdown — will hitch another suborbital ride with Blue Origin.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted congratulations following Tuesday’s demo. The space agency needs the ability to land precisely on the moon at specified locations, he noted.

Texas-based Southwest Research Institute had a magnetic asteroid-sampling experiment on board, as well as a mini rocket-fueling test.

Led by Amazon founder Bezos, Washington state-based Blue Origin is leading a team of companies to develop a lunar lander for astronauts. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is also working on a lander, as is Alabama-based Dynetics. NASA chose three teams in this early phase of the Artemis moon-landing program to increase the chances of getting astronauts to the lunar surface by the end of 2024, a deadline set by the White House.

Delayed three weeks by technical issues, this was the 13th New Shepard flight for Blue Origin. The first was in 2015. The rocket is named for the first American in space, Alan Shepard.

Tuesday’s launch was the first in nearly a year for Blue Origin: The pandemic stalled operations. Blue Origin said its staff is maintaining social distancing and taking other safety measures.

Blue Origin said it needs a couple more flights before launching people — tourists, scientists and professional astronauts — on short hops. The capsule has six seats

NASA set to announce new space technology public-private partnerships

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will announce new space technology public-private partnerships on Wednesday.

Bridenstine will make the announcement at the virtual fall Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium meeting. The event is co-hosted by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and Arizona State University.

“Bridenstine will discuss NASA’s Artemis program and announce the agency’s latest Tipping Point selections and their potential impact on sustainable lunar exploration” explained NASA in a statement. “NASA released the opportunity in January 2020, seeking U.S. industry-developed space technologies to foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future missions.”


On its website, NASA explains “a technology is considered at a tipping point if an investment in a demonstration will significantly mature the technology, increase the likelihood of infusion into a commercial space application, and bring the technology to market for both government and commercial applications.”

NASA’s Artemis program aims to land American astronauts on the lunar surface by 2024, while also establishing a sustainable human presence on Earth’s natural satellite.

The agency’s long-term goal is to send a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.

NASA’s first-ever agency-wide economic impact report recently revealed the space agency’s contribution to the U.S. economy.

In a statement, the space agency explained that through all of its activities, it generated more than $64.3 billion in total economic output during the fiscal year 2019 and supported more than 312,000 jobs nationwide. NASA also generated an estimated $7 billion in federal, state and local taxes.


The economic impact report commissioned by the space agency found that its Moon to Mars

Space agency leaders call for greater international cooperation

NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy, serving as commander of the Expedition 63 mission aboard the International Space Station, took these photos of Hurricane Laura as it continued to strengthen in the Gulf of Mexico on August 25. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Blue Origin to launch NASA’s new moon-landing technology into space

  • Blue Origin, the rocket company owned by Jeff Bezos, is about to launch a test flight to try out new moon-landing technologies for NASA.
  • NASA developed high-precision sensors, software, and a new computer to help spacecraft land in rocky or shadowy areas of the moon or Mars.
  • It paid Blue Origin $3 million to test those new technologies.
  • If they work as planned, the landing systems should deliver the company’s New Shepard rocket safely back to Earth on Tuesday.
  • You can watch the 12-minute launch and landing live.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Jeff Bezos’s rocket company, Blue Origin, is preparing to launch a suite of new high-precision moon-landing technologies into space for NASA, then test their mettle with a touchdown back on Earth.

The company’s New Shepard rocket is set to lift off from a launchpad in West Texas at 8:35 a.m. CDT on Tuesday. From there, it should rocket 62 miles into the air — reaching the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space — to briefly expose the NASA hardware to the space environment. The rocket will also release a capsule containing cargo for other companies, then descend back to Earth.

blue origin new shepard rocket booster landing

The New Shepard booster lands after the vehicle’s sixth consecutive flight Dec. 11, 2019.

Blue Origin

If NASA’s sensor systems, computer, and software perform as planned, they should land the rocket safely 12 minutes after launch.

NASA hopes to one day use the new landing systems it’s testing to send human missions to the moon, set up a permanent base there, and eventually land astronauts on the treacherous Martian landscape.

The larger system is called SPLICE, short for Safe and Precise Landing – Integrated Capabilities Evolution. It’s designed to help future moon missions land with better accuracy and safety — no pilot required. It

Head of Russian space program calls for more international cooperation in NASA’s Moon plans

The head of Russia’s space program said today that NASA’s plans to send people back to the Moon are “too US-centric” for Russia to participate. He has been critical of the program in the past and now says that Russia would only be open to participating if the Moon plans were more focused on international cooperation.

“The most important thing here would be to base this program on the principles of international cooperation that we’ve all used” to fly the ISS, Dmitry Rogozin, the director-general of Roscosmos, said through a translator during a virtual press conference at the International Astronautical Congress. He added: “If we could get back to considering making these principles as the foundation of the program, then Roscosmos could also consider its participation.”

Rogozin has made it clear that he is not a fan of NASA’s Moon program, an initiative called Artemis that aims to send the first woman to the lunar surface. Part of the program’s design calls for building a space station around the Moon, known as the Lunar Gateway, which would serve as an orbiting outpost for astronauts to visit before heading down to the surface of the Moon.

NASA has already partnered with some international agencies for Artemis — notably, Canada and Europe — but the US space agency is spearheading almost all of the major elements of the program, including the rockets, capsules, landers, and modules needed for the Gateway. And Rogozin has been vocal about his dislike of the US-led approach.

“For the United States, this is now more of a political project,” Rogozin told the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda in July. “With the lunar project, we are observing the departure of our American